Wednesday, December 23, 2009

California: Day 4 (Wed)...From Beach to Traffic

This morning started slowly...a fact that met with impatience on my part, I’m afraid.  Geoff had some work to do, which meant we didn’t check out of our hotel until late morning.  As a result, we weren’t able to ‘do’ The Getty Museum as we’d hoped to, but we figured we’d just get over our late start and proceed with the rest of our day as planned.  We were sorry to say good-bye to our lovely Marriott hotel after three great nights there...but we felt sure that other great things awaited us.

Today’s grand adventure was driving...up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) north of Los Angeles.  What a drive.  The PCH is sandwiched between the ocean on one side, and hills, mountains and massive red rock formations on the other side.  We got as far as just north of the unfortunately-named community of Oxnart, but my favourite part of the drive was going through the thirty mile district of Malibu, where we stopped at Zumba beach to have a wander through the sand and watch the dozen or so surfers in the water.  We purchased a picnic lunch from a local grocer, and I must add here that the people who worked in that store were the happiest and most jovial staff we’ve ever witnessed in a retail store...laughing and talking a mile a minute and giving each other high fives....  I wondered about this phenomenon for a while until I realized that of course they’re going to be happy - they live in paradise!   Before heading back onto the road to drive further north, we picked up a divine egg nog latte from Starbucks (yes, Starbucks is represented even in beach country) - the products for sale were the same as back home, but the clientele were certainly different: mostly hill-billy granola types with long, bohemian-style hair and skirts, and surfer dudes browned from the sun and easily distinguishable by their sun-bleached, wind-tossed mane of hair.  Malibu is a haven not only for surfers, but for writers, too, and I was happy to see that these literary artists must have gained an adequate level of inspiration from their surroundings because they certainly seemed able to afford those $5 cups of coffee and the spectacularly-built, cliff-side homes that towered over the beaches.  It was enough to make me think about checking out one of those homes for rent, to see if I, too, could be an inspired (and profitable!) writer; I’m pretty sure I, too, could come up with a novel plot in such a spot!

Though the facilitator of my book club strongly encouraged us to drive all the way up to Pismo Beach area, we simply didn’t have the time to travel an additional few hours up the coast this trip.  Knowing that we wanted to be back down in Anaheim (south of Los Angeles) by this evening, we eventually decided that it was time to turn our way southwards again.  The route we took back was also beautiful, though very different from the first half of our drive.  We took the inland passage (sounds like we were on a cruise ship!), traveling via six-lane highway up through the low, rust-coloured mountains, and eventually back down again through the San Fernando valley, where we were encircled by the brick-red rock formations that were carved out of water as it receded from the area millions of years ago.

The landscape of our day varied widely: from beaches and ocean and sunshine in the earlier part of our drive, to the peaks and valleys of the midpoint of our drive, and, finally, to the urban sprawl and terrible traffic jams in the latter part of our day as we headed towards Anaheim via LA.  For the most part, we all retained our good humour throughout the day; towards the end of the day, though, after struggling through the heavy interstate traffic of a late rush hour, we regressed into silliness, donning (terrible) British accents and calling each other “bloody rotters” and spouting off sentences beginning with “by jove.” We were glad to finally arrive at our destination!

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